Holly and Daniel
How We Met
The story of how I met my fiancé, Daniel, has been a running joke in our relationship for years. In what I like to call our official introduction, Daniel and I met, and quickly fell in love, during the first semester of my freshman year at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I remember seeing him across one of the busiest spots on campus, Ben Brown Plaza, on a chilly October afternoon and thinking that he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. Because the campus is small, after I had spotted him the first time, I felt like I started seeing him everywhere. I began to believe that he shared my attraction, because whenever we would pass in a hallway or on the sidewalk he would smile at me and say hello. What I thought was a mutual flirtation continued for a few weeks until we actually had a real conversation. It was then that I found out that the handsome stranger I had been making eyes at was politely waving to me on campus because we had met once two summers before. Needless to say, I was embarrassed, but as Daniel and I got to know each other, we found that our paths had crossed many times in our lives before we finally found each other.
I always laugh and tell people who ask me about how I met Daniel that I had to go to college to find a man who grew up less than a mile from me. One of the first things we discovered about one another is that our childhood homes where our families still lived were within walking distance of each other. Although they were located in different parts of the same large neighborhood, they were zoned for two different school systems, and that is how we missed each other. As we talked, we learned that we had grown up going to the same restaurants, shopping at the same stores, attending the same sporting events, and I even went to prom at his high school with a different date. We found out that there were a few times when we were in the same place and we had no idea. We could have bumped into each other and not even known it!
What I call our unofficial meeting, where Daniel met ME for the first time, took place the summer before my senior year of high school. That summer I was a participant in a pageant that was being held in the auditorium at Daniel’s old high school. He and a few of his friends who were back from college for the summer volunteered to be stage hands backstage for the two night pageant in order to help out some of his favorite teachers from high school. One of Daniel’s responsibilities was to give the girls their cues to go on and off stage. Apparently, we had a conversation while I was waiting to go out on stage and do my talent. As I’ve told him many times, I have no recollection of this moment, but I think I was so nervous to go out on stage and dance in front of hundreds of people that I blacked out from fear! My fiancé, my family, and my friends, will never let me live this down as long as I live!
Living as close as we did for so long without knowing it, I often lament that we did not find each other sooner…but I know that God planned it that way on purpose. We found each other at the perfect time–following life experiences that had prepared us to love each other fully, and when we were old enough to appreciate what we had found. I am thankful for Samford University, because it was the place where we finally ended up at the same place and at the perfect time.
how they asked
Time started to fly after we met in the fall of 2012, and before we knew it, we had both graduated from Samford, I was a second year law student, and Daniel had graduated with his master’s degree and was out in the workforce. One day, as we were reminiscing and laughing at old stories, Daniel suggested that, on December 26th, we should go to Samford and re-create the first picture we took together on one of our first dates. December 26th is a special day in our relationship. Since the first year we were together, that is when the two of us have always exchanged our gifts…we’ve actually started calling it “our Christmas” because we celebrate the day before with our families, but we never get to see what the other one has gotten us until the next day. It is also particularly special because on December 26th, 2012, after we had exchanged gifts for the first time, he officially asked me if I would be his girlfriend. I excitedly accepted, and I never looked back.
Since Christmas has a special meaning in our relationship, and because Daniel is the most romantic man in the world and is always planning fun dates and adventures for us, the idea of this photo shoot didn’t tip me off that anything was going on. In fact, I was mainly just excited for an opportunity to get all dressed up and take pictures after I had spent most of December studying and taking my law school finals. Just to throw me off the trail a little extra, though, Daniel told me a few weeks before Christmas that he didn’t think that we would be getting engaged until the summer at the earliest.
On the morning of the 26th, I woke up early and I was so excited to give Daniel his Christmas presents and to go take pictures. I took my time getting ready, knowing I’d be in front of the camera, and before I knew it, Daniel arrived. We exchanged presents leisurely until it was time to go, and I had no idea that the greatest present I would ever receive was still to come!
Samford is beautiful at Christmastime, with decorations as far as the eye can see. We pulled up a few minutes after Daniel’s mom and dad, who agreed to take the pictures for us. The campus felt like a ghost town since all the students had gone home for Christmas. What I didn’t know at the time, was that Samford is actually closed on Christmas day and the day after. Knowing this, Daniel contacted the university president and the chief of campus police and got special access to the campus. He truly thought of everything.
We started by re-creating the picture we took four years ago in front of the tree. His mom posed us trying to find the “best lighting” and “best angles” so Daniel’s dad could get good shots of us. I found out later that what they were really doing was trying to keep me from seeing that my family was hiding behind trees and bushes trying to catch a glimpse of what was about to happen.
After we had taken a bunch of different shots, I walked up to the tree and started looking at all the beautiful ornaments. After a moment, I noticed that there was one large red ornament right in front of me that was different from the others. Daniel, from behind me, said softly, “turn it around”. On the other side of the ornament was written, “Will You Marry Me?” In shock, I turned around to find Daniel on one knee. After four years together, countless hours spent dreaming of this moment, and probably thousands of pins on Pinterest, I thought for sure that when this day finally arrived, I would be as cool as a cucumber. Turns out, seeing the love of my life on one knee in front of me asking me to be his wife is something I could never prepare for, and I immediately started to cry. I think I asked him four times if this was really happening…but I regained my composure, and I listened and tried to stay calm as Daniel told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend his life protecting me and cherishing me. I managed to get out a nod, and I was shaking so hard that he could barely get the ring on, but it was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen.
After we hugged, and kissed, and hugged some more, and I got a hold of myself, Daniel pulled an envelope from his jacket pocket. He explained to me that there was no way he would remember everything he wanted to say to me while he was down on one knee, but that he wanted me to know just how loved I was. We sat down together and read the letter. Tears were streaming down my face, and I finally realized that this day meant we would be together as man and wife forever. In the letter, I read as the man I loved so much poured his heart out to me about how he had prayed for his future wife, and how he praised God for bringing us together. After receiving countless letters from Daniel over the course of four years, this one was certainly my favorite.
When I finished the letter, my parents, brother, and grandparents all came out of hiding. They also showed me where they had hidden a go-pro camera that had captured a video of the whole moment! Everyone I love had been there to see the whole thing unfold. We talked, and laughed, and hugged, and cried, and we were able to take our first family photo now that the two families are becoming one. We all went to Daniel’s house where more family was waiting. We ate lunch, called friends and far-away family, and celebrated for the rest of the afternoon.
We got engaged where we fell in love. It was the perfect proposal, at the perfect place, and it was the most perfect day of my life, but it will nothing compared to the day when I can wake up and know that I am the wife of the world’s most wonderful man.